I’m the color of school glue
By: By Lisa Smartt
I’m the color of school glue. I was born the color of school glue. I come from a long line of large European people who have skin which is the color of school glue. But it’s that time of year ... the time when Americans seem to be dead set on transforming their skin color. It’s the time of year when I have to provide my own therapeutic “self talk” in order to prepare for my pasty white summer. Y’see, years ago, I decided to embrace the color God gave me at birth. I don’t go to tanning salons. I don’t bake myself in the sun. I don’t think it’s wise for a middle-aged woman who was born the color of school glue to pour oil all over her body and bake herself in the front yard like a barbecued chicken. That just doesn’t seem like a natural or healthy pursuit.
In order to combat the culture on this issue, I have to frequently remind myself that the whole idea of tanning goes in and out of style. There was a day in America when women wore bonnets and long sleeves seeking to protect their skin from the damaging effects of the sun. But one day an anonymous influential American convinced us all that we needed to cook ourselves. Hence, the barbecued chicken era began.
Women (and even men) now immerse themselves in oil and deep fry their skin. When I question the wisdom of various tanning procedures, the tanning crowd cries out loudly in defense, “Are you kidding? The sun gives you a healthy glow.” I want a healthy glow as much as the next gal. But I think there are ways to achieve a healthy glow without subjecting myself to increased skin cancer risks. I’ve decided to attempt the following: Smile more often. Laugh a lot (laugh lines are the sign of a life well lived). Be kind (not always easy). Hold my tongue (this will be my biggest challenge). I hold out hope that all of the above could provide a “glowing” result.
When it comes to men and tanning, I feel compelled to share my honest observations. It’s one thing to have a tan because you’re a farmer. It’s one thing to have a tan because you’re a construction worker. But, men, if you have a tan because you soaked your skin in expensive suntan oil and laid on a chaise lounge in your backyard, you might want to re-evaluate your masculine priorities. Truthfully, you might as well go ahead and shave your legs and chest hair at this point. Grab a People magazine and don’t forget to drop by the cosmetics counter for your moisturizing facial products. For all you non-tanning men, if someone makes fun of your white legs or chest when you go to the pool or beach, just remind them that you’re a grown-up. You have a job and a life which don’t allow time for backyard tanning sessions. I know. You feel better already.
Here’s the bottom line. If God gave you beautiful black or brown skin, be happy. If He gave you lovely tan or olive skin, be happy. And even if your skin color reminds you of that first bottle of glue you were assigned in kindergarten, don’t fret. God made people in many different colors. You are a work of art.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.28.08
Lisa Smartt, The Smartt View